Progression in PSO2 is mostly about your character’s class level, with Client Orders being a secondary mechanism for your character’s development. Levels make you stronger, give you skill points to spend in your talent tree, unlock new areas and the usual things you might expect. Client Orders also unlock content and features for your character, as well as raising your level cap.
For the large part, progression is ok. Levelling from 1-20 sees you unlocking a fair number of places to frolic about in, but beyond 20 there’s a sudden drought.
To illustrate this, here are the level milestones to unlock various things.
- Level 1 – 3 Forest missions.
- Level 5 – 4th Forest mission + Free Field Forest
- Level 10 – 3 Volcano Cave missions + Free Field Volcano Cave
- Level 15 – 3 Desert missions + Free Field Desert
- Level 20 – Hard mode unlock. Access to hard mode versions of all Forest missions and 1 Volcano Cave mission.
- Level 25 – Access to hard mode versions of the remaining Volcano Cave mission and 3 hard mode Desert missions.
- Level 30 – Access to 3 Iceberg missions and access to hard mode Free-Field Forest, Volcano Cave and Desert.
- Level 33 – Access to Free Field Iceberg. Access to an unknown number of Subterranean Tunnel missions.
- Between Level 33-40 – Access to Free Field Subterranean Tunnels, Amduscia’s floating island field missions + Free Field.
Note: Iceberg is the field formerly known as “Tundra”. In Story Mode, the official names of areas are displayed, that’s where Iceberg came from (as well as confirming the names of the other areas). I’m not a fan of the name, but official is official.
Notice something odd about that? 1-20 has you unlocking Volcano Cave and Desert areas with their missions. 30-40 has you unlocking Iceberg, Subterranean Tunnels and Amduscia’s un-named floating island area. 20-30 unlocks.. harder versions of the same areas you’ve already played though.
The reason this happens because the Iceberg areas have no normal mode versions of their missions, which leaves a gaping content hole between lv20 to lv30 as a result. Not exactly sure why they elected to do this, as I don’t think anyone’s idea of fun is to be forced grind through the content they’re already familiar with just to access new areas. It’s made worse by the fact that up until lv20 you’re sort of constantly unlocking new things to see, so you really do feel that sudden drop off.
It almost feels like they originally wanted there to be a normal mode Iceberg. If you have access to it, take a look at your 3rd Matter Board. It concerns itself entirely with Iceberg content and enemies, yet you’ll notice the nodes require the enemies to be at least lv21. But the first Iceberg enemies you encounter are at least lv30, so why doesn’t it ask for lv31+ enemies? It doesn’t make sense. What also makes no sense is the 4th Matter Board then concerns itself with hard mode Desert content, again lv21+ and then the same with the 5th Matter Board with Volcano Caves. You’ll have unlocked those two areas before you’ll have even started on Iceberg content, so why does the Matter Board ask for it in reverse order? Another effect of this is your story progression is effectively also halted until you’re lv30 (despite the Iceberg story quest being labelled as lv20-30).
The decision to not include a normal-mode version of Iceberg content is a bizarre one to me, in my opinion it messes up the flow of content progression and I do hope they re-consider this approach in the future. While yes this would mean that enemy levels would cross each other in difficulty levels, this is really a minor concern compared to people being forced through the same content just to reach new stuff. 20-30 is however, so far, the only content gap. With Very Hard versions of missions being added later this year we’ll see if any other gaps arise.